Article by Hawkes Bay Today Anendra Singh
Charity, they say, begins at home and it seems point guard Aidan Daly has been doing his fair share of it for the hapless Hawks so far this season.
The veteran Indigo-sponsored Hawks captain is the king of the free-throw line in the National Basketball League (NBL) going into round five of matches tonight.
“It’s the good old free-throw percentages,” says Daly before leading the winless Hawks on to their first game (and double header) on the road in a 7pm tip off against the Wellington Saints at the TSB Arena today and then across the Cook Strait to the den of the Mike Pero Nelson Giants tomorrow for another 7pm start.
“I’m shooting something like 16 out of 17 times I stepped up on the free-throw line so it’s the highest percentage … but I’m definitely not looking for any individual accolades because we have to make sure the team goes well and gets ‘Ws’,” he said of his 94.1 per cent success from the charity line.
Giants player Ben Strong is second on 86.8 per cent, Taranaki’s Aron Bailey-Nowell is third (86.7), Nelson’s Ray Cowells is fourth (85.1) while ex-Hawk and current Saint Dion Prewster puts it in a vice with 80 per cent for the top five.
“Look, a couple of boys mentioned it to me in training and Jay [Bratschi] dropped me an email so it’s good to achieve a few goals like that every season,” says Daly although he feels there is no reason why every basketballer shouldn’t be in the 90-plus percentage bracket of the free-throw department.
“We train to do that every time. They are easy buckets and there’s no pressure so we should be getting 20 out of 30 rather than 10,” he says, impressing how in the glamour NBA teams “even the bigs” are capable of dropping them
That, he says, negates the need for a team to worry about how the opposition are likely to foul weaker shooters in the dying minutes of the game to ensure points are kept at a minimal and opportunities arise for them to regain possession from missed baskets.
“It looks like a very small part of the game but it can be quite important in the long run.”
The Kevin Braswell-coached Saints beat the Hawks 89-74 at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Napier, in the opening round but Daly likes to think the Hawks will be wiser for it.
Hawks coach Kirstin Daly-Taylor will be without import Chris Porter who has returned to the United States after a season-ending hamstring injury but the other American, Kareem Johnson, has pushed his way into the NBL player of the week charts in at No 8 after scoring 28 points against the SIT Zerofees Sharks last round.
“We’re under some injury cloud and Chris has gone but it’s a good time for others to step up,” Daly says delighted with the PG Arena faithful’s support at home but believing playing away will ease some of the home-turf pressure.
Ominously history isn’t on the Hawks’ side. They last beat the Saints on May 10, 2014, with the hosts prevailing seven times after that.
A jovial Daly says tomorrow they will try to convince ex-Hawks captain Jarrod Kenny, now a Tall Black point guard for the table-topping Giants, to return to the Bay nest.